With the election for Newark mayor approaching, candidate Ras Baraka told NJTV News Managing Editor Mike Schneider that he feels positive heading into the election and has seen positive results while talking to people in the community.
“The polls look good but I don’t really listen to the polls,” said Baraka. “I just continue to push forward and act like we’re behind. Really just knock on doors and talk to as many people as we possibly can. But it feels good.”
During the campaign, Baraka’s campaign bus had been set on fire and an arrest has been made in the case. The suspect has been allegedly linked to Baraka’s opponent Shavar Jeffries. According to Baraka, the suspect who was arrested runs Jeffries’ ELEC report.
Baraka said that the Jeffries campaign may not be responsible for the bus incident, but it is responsible for the action of people within the campaign.
Past Newark mayoral races have been characterized as rough and tumble, but Baraka said that he did not know of any past campaigns that had comparable incidents.
“I don’t know any other race where a bus was burned, folks going out on the street doing these kind of things,” said Baraka.
Baraka said that these actions leading up to the election are unfortunate for the voters of Newark and he doesn’t want to be associated with that kind of behavior.
As for the job of current interim Mayor Luis Quintana, Baraka said that Quintana has tried his best in the city but there hasn’t been any credible ups or downs.
When it comes to Cory Booker’s time as mayor, Baraka says that Booker did a lot and that he got a lot of attention put on Newark. Baraka also said that Booker helped established a nightlife in the downtown region and that he will continue it with his administration.
Baraka said that more police officers need to be on the streets and go into the city’s neighborhoods to help deal with crime. According to Baraka, a federal monitor on the Newark Police Department is not necessary. He said issues can be solved by the Newark police themselves.
If elected as the new mayor, Baraka said that he would tell the education commissioner and Gov. Chris Christie that Newark needs a new superintendent for the city’s schools and that everybody has backed away from education issues. He said the issues would be fixed with a new superintendent.
As for the biggest surprise during this campaign, Baraka said, “Somebody burned my bus.”